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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  February 23, 2011 4:00am-5:00am EST

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any more, so everything is out of kilter, and it doesn't matter what you eat or wear, rush has to break through. >> out of kilter, and richard, sorry to say, we are out of time. richard, thank you for joining us. that's tonight's last word. you can follow us at msnbc.com and facebook and twitter. "the rachel maddow show" is up next with chris hayes sitting in. >> thanks, lawrence. thanks to you at home for staying with us. i am chris hayes, filling in for rachel. we begin with a surprising new development, what looks to be a spreading revolt by unions and democratic allies against republican led state level efforts to attack unions all across the country. wisconsin's democratic state senators are still hold up tonight in an undisclosed location over wisconsin governor scott walker's now infamous anti-union bills in that state. democrats fled to illinois to prevent a vote on that bill, and today in a truly unexpected move, democratic legislators in the state of indiana followed
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suit. indiana house democrats fled the statehouse today in order to prevent a vote on another anti-union bill being proposed in that state by republican legislators. today in the great state of ohio, thousands upon thousands of protesters desended on the statehouse in order to back another anti-union bill being brought by that state's republicans. in michigan, protests broke out in state capitol of lansing. the cause of the protests, another anti-union bill proposed by republican state legislators. public school teachers in tennessee are fighting back this week over another anti-union bill in that state being proposed by republican state legislators. what began in madison, wisconsin is now spreading like prairie fire across the midwest. perhaps in the coming days, a little further east. today, republican governor chris christie of new jersey delivered
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his annual state of the budget address. and he set his eyes on what should now be a very familiar prize. >> in wisconsin and ohio, they have decided there can no longer be two classes of citizens, one that receives rich health and pension benefits, and all the rest who are left to pay for them. [ applause ] the promises of the past are too expensive and the prospects of the future are too important to stay on the old failed course. across the country, we have come to a moment. >> chris christie has become the media's favorite mouthpiece for a cluster of conservative arguments about the perilous spot states find themselves in, and the story about the culprits for state budget troubles and the remedies. chief remedy number one, squeeze the unions until they choke. there are, of course, different situations in all of these
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different states that we're seeing anti-union proposals on the table. but the central case on the right is that states are facing budget crises because of the public sector unions. that's the argument. the argument being made by scott walker in wisconsin, by chris christie in new jersey and by conservatives like david brooks in "the new york times." he writes states with public sector unions tend to run into fiscal crises. tend. look at that argument again. summed up in four little letters. they carry a big load. the t and d are sagging down. asked to shoulder so much of this argument. that's the thesis the right is selling now. so let's test it. there are a few different ways to do that. a political scientist named john sides had a bright idea to graf it out to see if there's a connection.
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what you're looking at is a result of that. there's a lot of information on this graf, but don't be scared. a state like mississippi, the very low union membership rate, 5% of the state's work force in a union. the current budget shortfall is about 16% of their budget. a state like new york on the other hand a very high union membership rate, 25% of its work force. their budget shortfall is pretty much the same as mississippi's. one state has lots of union members, the other has very few, and it's the same deficit. now, that was for overall union membership, not to just public sector membership. let's check that part of it. if republicans are to be believed, a state that doesn't allow collective bargaining for public employees should be in good shape. a state like, say, north carolina. north carolina does not allow government workers to bargain. a result of that, seventh worst fiscal crisis in the entire country. idaho, on the other hand, which allows some bargaining by state workers, they're in the best shape of any state in the country. this idea that somehow public sector labor unions are the cause of these budget crises is just not supported by the
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evidence. the reason they have fiscal problems is not because of unions, it is because we've been through the worst recession since the great depression. we haven't seen prolonged levels of unemployment in this country. unbelievable waste of human capital sitting around and degrading. record foreclosures and record bankruptcy. that's what's destroyed the revenue basin these states, not unions. states don't have money right now because the economy is terrible, and the economy is terrible because an $8 trillion housing bubble and wall street shen and begans destroyed it. this is not a crisis brought on by public employee unions but now a crisis being used to crush them. the other argument you hear from conservatives is that it is not all unions they're against, just public sector unions. what's happening in wisconsin
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they say is about government employees unionizing and causing the state to go broke. private sector unions, we are cool with those. you want to unionize walmart, go for it. david brooks wrote in the times private sector union members know their employees could go out of business, they have an incentive to mitigate demands. they work for state monopolies and have no such interest. the idea that conservatives aren't all against unions, just the ones in the public sector. cast your memory back to the state of indiana where democrats fled today. the bill there that democrats are walking out on has nothing to do with public sector unions. no. that bill was to effectively end collective bargaining for private sector unions in this state. the right has been whacking away
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at private sector unions since the 1940s. now that they succeeded in nearly extinguishing them, their move to opportune is it cannily say nice things about them, if only to turn around and say bad about the public sector unions. it is so disingenuous that people are catching on. the reason it is spreading state to state is because we are seeing new republican governors and state legislators that rode in from the state of economic discontent, that they understood a mandate for the policies, and b, used to pull abate and switch. they rode into power on profound frustration with the jobs crisis, and what are they doing? they're pursuing with reckless seale all their pre-existing idea logical vendettas. it is an excuse to kneecap a long-standing conservative foe. even governor mitch daniels wants republicans in the state legislature to pull the bill. the broader question we are left with is this. is it going to work? the bet that republicans are
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making, they can use the mandate they think they got in november and channel it towards their own wish list of right wing priorities. and the bets progressives make as they try to stop the bills in their tracks is that slowing it down, delaying it, will give the american people more time to recognize exactly what's going on here. tonight, we may have some early evidence that the progressive strategy may be prevailing. the first independent poll done on this issue now shows that 61% of americans would oppose their state legislators bringing up a wisconsin-like union stripping bill in their state. 61%. governor rick scott of florida backing away from the scott walker union busting plan, rather than endorsing it. >> he's trying to eliminate collective bargaining for some issues there. my belief is as long as people know what they're doing, collective bargaining is fine. >> which side, benefits for the battle in wisconsin stretching into week two, which side stands a better chance of winning as
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the fight goes nationwide. joining us now, ezra klein, columnist for "the washington post" and news week and msnbc contributor. ezra, great to see you. >> good evening, chris. >> first of all, do you think the premise is right, in terms of to the degree we can establish relationship between public sector unionization as standing policy in the state and fiscal crisis, there really isn't much connection at all? >> unionization does not drive fiscal crises. we don't want to go too far with that. pension funds, these things matter for state budgets. they are a drag, just as, and we should be clear, giant corporate income tax cuts are a big dragon state budgets, ross of revenue, overspending, budgets are complicated. but i want to go a step further with what you're saying here. it is important to realize that when the states made these promises to their workers, they made a deal. they said we'll get your work now if you let us defer payment to later. that wasn't a bad deal for the state.
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there's a narrative that the greedy workers got too much money, too much benefits from the state. right now, they got less than what they figure they were promised. in the end, people -- the idea that people that come out on top are overcompensated unions is a little atrocious. they basically got the short end of the stick here. >> why do you think it is that we've seen this sort of coordinated agenda? it strikes me that walker is overreach, and maybe he is beginning to realize that, i don't know. why do you think at this moment do you think we are seeing it play out in so many states? >> there's the argument you heard from rahm emanuel, you don't want a crisis to go away. people take these moments of upheaval and moments of political opportunity to achieve long-term structural ends, and
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the obama did this. they looked to get healthcare reform passed, which was not necessarily a direct need from the financial crisis, even though it was something helpful to the country, and similarly, republican governors in these states see the opportunity in the large new majorities they have to reshape the balance of power in the states. if you look at walker's document, he says we are going to undercut union power in my state and we are then balancing the budget in part by taking away promises made to union employees in the state. at the same time, we are going to drastically cut corporate income taxes and other taxes that harm or impede corporations in order to increase business unemployment in the state. you can argue that's good or bad. but what it is functionally is a different balance of power. corporations become more powerful as unions become less powerful. they get more of what they want. and money is freed up in the budget to give them more of what they want. that's the equation we see. >> i sort of wonder where you think the balance of power, since we are talking about power, where the balance of power lies in this standoff.
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it can tip either way. who gains the advantage the longer it drags out? >> the longer it drags out, probably the unions. i think there's a good chance it does pass in wisconsin or certainly something that will impede the unions there. at the same time, i think you're seeing a reknitting of coalition between the unions and democratic party and arguably unions and many people in the country having to step back and say what is it that the unions -- what role do unions actually play. i don't think we had this serious a conversation of the role of labor in america certainly not in my memory. at the same time, it led democrats and others to say maybe we need to worry about the long term trend of deunionization, maybe we need them on the landscape. >> ezra klein, thanks for coming on. >> thank you. two weeks ago, how many nonwisconsiners could tell you who scott walker is, much less predict he would be in the middle of a national struggle for america's soul? an overdue examination of the dairy state's big cheese up
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breaking news this hour that rahm emanuel representing a district in the city of chicago is going to represent that city as its next mayor. associated press says he is projected to win the democratic primary in that race, not only win it but exceed the 50% threshold that would keep him from having to face a runoff. once again, according to associated press, rahm emanuel will be the next mayor of chicago. insert your expletive of choice. we'll be right back.
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let's say you're state government and you need to hire
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a company to run one of your state-owned power plants. you don't want to run it yourself, you want a private company. what do you do? if you are a fiscally responsible government you invite companies to bid on the contract. here is how it works. company a says i'll do it for $10, company b says $9. and they come back and on and on until the contract is given to the lowest bidder giving the state the best possible deal. that's how it is supposed to go. hold that in your brain just a minute while we turn to the state of wisconsin, where this incredible thing is going on. republican governor scott walker and his fellow republicans are trying to dismantle almost all the unions for almost everybody who works for state and local governments in wisconsin. unions and lots and lots and lots of wisconsinites don't like this idea, they would like to
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keep their hard fought for rights, thank you very much. the standoff between the two sides only intensified this week, with governor walker threatening layoffs if his bill isn't passed because it is all about jobs, jobs, jobs, right? and on the other side, an umbrella work who vowed to call for a general strike if it is passed. they are trying to lure self exiled democrats back with voter id bill liberals have been fighting for year. they passed it with democrats on the phone from illinois, they were not allowed to vote. in the state assembly, they report that after a simple discussion commending law enforcement, republicans tried to sneak a vote on a bill. democrats rushed to the floor and a shouting match ensued. democrats flood the bill with a stream of 100 amendments to this wart republicans. unions and supporters showed no signs of backing down. one provision in the bill allows the state to refinance debt for savings of $165 million. and the governor claims if the
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bill doesn't pass by friday, the state won't be able to save the full amount. but don't worry. not all legislation was stalled today in madison. governor walker proudly and defiantly signed a bill making it more difficult for the state to raise revenue during what he, himself describes as a time of fiscal crisis. it is that same crisis which has been and continues to be the governor's argument as to why he wants to dismantle public sector unions. he reiterated it earlier this evening in his fireside chat, an awkward name, awkward choice of name, given the president with which we associate fireside chat oversaw an era of union proliferation proliferation. >> the legislation is about balancing the budget, now and in the future. our bill is about protecting the hard working taxpayer. some will question why we have to reform collective bargaining, to balance the budget.
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the answer is simple. the system is broken. >> that's the thesis. destroy unions because of money. we are broke, so collective bargaining must go. it is not about a budget shortfall. with the bill today, he made it more difficult to raise revenue, and this is a very big and, ginandtacos.com points to a little known portion of the bill. quote. the department may sell any state owned heating and cooling or power plant and may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant with or without solicitation of bids. with or without bids. remember the whole bidding on contract thing to give the best, most fiscally responsible deal possible? this allows for irresponsible money wasting no bid contracts. in other words, company a says they will do it for $12, and it is sold to the only bidder. so what's going on in wisconsin
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right now is not about money and not about closing a budget shortfall, it is about implementing a conservative wish list that stretches back long before walker was elected. joining us now, jr ross with wispolitics.com. thanks for joining us. >> no problem. how you doing. >> so governor walker's argument is the public sector unions are to blame for the fiscal crisis, they have to be weakened. he has been pitted in a battle against these very same unions for a long time, if i understand correctly. >> yes. sorry. say that again. >> governor walker has been pitted in a battle with these very same unions for quite some time as i understand. >> oh, yeah, i'm sorry. go back, scott walker was county executive in milwaukee county for eight years before he became governor, he has been fighting local unions there the whole time he was in office. he was swept into power after a scandal over a pension sweetener deal. came in as conservative trying to reign in public employee costs and public finances in
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milwaukee. a number of things between layoffs, furloughs, trying to privatize service by public employees, all kinds of things. in his mind, it is his idea to reign in the government of wisconsin to try to fix the finances of wisconsin. >> i am wondering if walker has a bit of a reputation as movement conservative. certainly he comes up in the circle. if that was the campaign he ran when he ran for governor, issues like collective bargaining were on the table when he was running for governor, or is this a bait and switch? >> he dropped some hints. he made it clear he was going after public employee pensions and try to reign in costs. he never ran an ad about i'm going to end collective bargaining, almost every issue on wisconsin salaries. that wasn't part of the deal. now he dropped hints in december. you have to go back, before they turned over power to
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republicans, they tried to ram through contracts that included basically extensions of benefits, benefits they enjoy in wisconsin. at the time, he made it clear that he wanted to consider the contracts in light of the 2011 to 2013 budget and the problem in wisconsin for finances then. it was thought at the time by insiders that he was holding back kind of like an ace in the hole, if they wouldn't agree to concessions on public employee benefits, they would go after them on collective bargaining rights. they never assumed this would happen like this, and that he was going to go after collective bargaining right away. some are surprised he did this up front. >> finally real quick, what the political results will be if he has overreached or gauged properly sort of where the public is on this issue? >> if the debate is about public
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employee pay, pensions and healthcare, he wins that hands down. you ask any insider both sides, democrats and republicans tell you that the public is fed up with spending and pension and pay. they want to reign it in. you get to collective bargaining, that's a tougher issue. that's why you're seeing private unions come out and support the union forces. you're seeing firefighters come out and the police officials that wouldn't be covered by the proposal. so this is a tougher fight than it is on pay and benefits for sure. >> jr ross, from wispolitics.com. really appreciate it. >> any time. >> here is how negotiating works. if you want 70, you ask for a00, the other guy says no. you smile, say 70, he agrees. republicans on the hill know this. do democrats? [ doctor ] here's some health information for people over 50.
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when you negotiate, especially in politics, you want to press maximal advantage. never want the first negotiating position to be the same as where you end up. you first plant a stake in the ground as far as possible from home turf so when you have to retreat, you end up having gained ground. in wisconsin, governor scott walker has certainly made a maximalist first offer. he wants salary cuts and pension cuts for most state workers, wants to all but take away collective bargaining rights. he wants rules that would make it difficult for unions to stay
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organized. governor walker has already won concessions on salary and pension cuts, and won't even discuss accepting them. he is pressing for maximal advantage on everything, and at least for now won't accept anything less. the same dynamic is also playing out in washington, where today house republicans were standing firm on their position that keeping the government funded, keeping it up and running, means drastic cuts in spending. today, they wouldn't rule out a stop cut measure that includes some modest cuts. so even though unemployment rate is still above 9%, even though many democrats rightly believe expansion naer spending is the way to create jobs, democratic leaders of the senate are already conceding ground to republicans on spending. and suddenly the debate is how much to cut, not whether we should be cutting at all. it is still relatively early in the debate. how much more will the democrats be willing to concede to avoid
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shut down? a shut down that republicans claim democrats are trying to bring about. quoting eric cantor, a government shut down is not acceptable outcome and i call upon leader reed to take that threat off the table and find areas to cut spending. except the continuing resolution that house republicans proposed to keep the government funded does a lot more than cut spending. it is jammed full of hundreds of legislative items that would strip the epa of its ability to regulate carbon emissions, not merely ham $80 million of the budget, because it would do that, too, but bar the agency from using its fund are for development and implementation of greenhouse gas regulations. amendments that were passed on party line votes friday, the house voted to end all federal funding for planned parenthood. the set of extreme policies are the republicans' opening bid, their first offer. by making it so dear, stuffing in so many provisions that are
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out there, they set up a dynamic where either they win major concessions from democrats or the government shuts down. what's at stake here is not just whether the lights stay on and social security checks are sent after march 4th, which is let's remember ten days from now, what's at stake is whether people without health insurance will be able to get health insurance, or access to services if they don't have it. what's at stake is the quality of the air you breathe and the water you drink. are these things you want held hostage without negotiation or seeded away early in negotiations? are they just bargaining chips? take a deep breath as you think it over. all you pantene 2-in-1 lovers,
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with dick day ta tors around him toppling, libya's strong man of four decades appears to be making a brutal play to avoid joining their ranks. this as far as we can tell thanks to the regime's media blackout, the kind of violence in the capitol, tripoli. witnesses report that armed militia men loyal to moammar gadhafi seized control of green square, the central square of the capitol after two nights of mayhem.
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they say neighborhoods are littered with bodies after protesters were fired on from speeding cars, tanks, helicopters. even have a report that planes dropped explosives on protesters from above, and that foreign mercenaries were firing indiskrim nantly. independent journalists have yet to make it into the capitol city. richard engel made it into eastern libya today. i'll join us to tell us what he saw there in a moment. for what's happening in most of the country, we are forced to rely on witness accounts and video shot on cell phones or uploaded through social media. what we can tell you is that libya's strong man the past 41 years, moammar gadhafi, is calling for all out war on anyone that dares question his regime. libyan state television broadcast a rambling, aggressive
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70 minute speech in which he pounded his fists, vowing to fight on until his last drop of blood was spilled, saying he would die a martyr. all in front of a carefully chosen backdrop, his palace. gadhafi denied being responsible for the violence against protesters, but also called them rats and mercenaries, and urged his supporters to take to the streets to fight them. gadhafi even appeared to give them a legal pretext, brandishing his green book which reportly contained illegal statute saying lib yans that betray their country should be put to death. libyan state television showed supporters cheering after the speech. but in the second city of ben georgia ee, a different picture. al jazeera showing people throwing shoes at their television screens in contempt. and much of the eastern part of libya is reportedly out of gadhafi's control.
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they are taking the side of protesters there and giving the people weapons. the interior minister joined the deif he canors. he urged the rest of gadhafi's army to join the libyan people. united nations security council convened and issued a statement condemning use of violence and calling those responsible for attacks to be held accountable. it is unclear what leverage anyone has over gadhafi. one world leader who admits having spoken with him today is the man spotted here last spring kissing his ring, italian prime minister silvio better lus coney. they said he talked by phone but gave no other details. the ambassador to the un suggested imposing a no fly zone over libya. the arab league today reprimanded gadhafi and suspended libya's participation
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in the organization. senator john kerry called on president obama to reimpose sanctions on libya until the crisis ends and called on united nations to remove libya from the human rights commission. and secretary of state clinton called the violent crackdown completely unacceptable. >> we believe that the government of libya bears responsibility for what is occurring, and must take action to end the violence. >> joining us now from eastern libya, nbc news chief foreign correspondent, richard engel. richard, what have you seen today? >> we crossed in from egypt, and we crossed the border, and as soon as you cross the border from egypt, it is obvious that things are not normal here, that the government of gadhafi who has ruled the country for 41 years no longer ex-erts his authority across the country.
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on the libyan side of the border, like every border crossing, there's the egyptian side that stamps visas and the entry side on the libyan side. all of the libyan side is gone. as soon as you get through egypt, you just drive right into the country. then you run into the protesters. you run into the rebels. i don't think you can call them protesters any more because this is an armed movement with its objective, they are not trying to sit peacefully in tahrir square in cairo, they are gathering weapons with the intention to go and kill gadhafi. they are actively trying to overthrow the government. so as soon as you cross-over, you get into libya, you run into these armed demonstrators, lots of them. they set up check points almost everywhere they can put a checkpoint, on intersections, on street crossings, down the main highways. there's lots and lots of these protester rebel check points. we drove around about 100 miles in this part of eastern libya,
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and we didn't see, chris, an entire one single loy alyce to gadhafi. >> do you have any sense from where you are how far this sort of ink blot extends in terms of rebel control and how much of the country gadhafi still has under his tenuous control? >> we've been -- i spent a lot of days looking at that exact question. according to people, most of the sources from the opposition, you have to take their claims with a grain of salt. but they believe they control about a third of this country and that would start at the egyptian border and it would end just beyond the city of benghaz i, and extend south not to the bottom of the country, but the northeastern corridor of the country that is in rebel hands, and then after benghazi, is the disputed area and the south still in gadhafi's hands. so it is a fluid situation, but
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the rebels here have lots of family contacts. this is a tribal society. we drove comfortably around this area today, not the entire roughly 5 or 600 kilometer span on the north, but we didn't find any problems. so they think about a third. >> we all watched the speech from gadhafi today, and i wonder what people there made of it, what that portends for what the government is doing and will continue to do to try to retain the regime's power. >> they believe that gadhafi has lost his mind, that he is an insane person right now, and they think he's capable of doing anything, and they watched that speech, heard the threats that he was making, and thought he's clearly insane, and he needs to go, and this only inspires the
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movement to go forward. but there was a note of concern, this of someone who is grasping onto power, who has been here 41 years, they're capable of doing almost anything. the army has defected. i was at an army base and the entire unit, not quite i think it was a battalion had defected. they said they weren't going to fight. they told us they were refusing to fire on their own people, and because that happened, gadhafi has hired mercenaries from several african countries, and these mercenaries according to opposition groups, human rights groups and other independent sources are the ones carrying out the crackdown on the urban population and carrying out what the people here are describing as massacres. so if you have a leader who is according to many in this city insane, desperate for power, and
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hired mercenaries, then it is hard to know what to expect from somebody like that. you could expect anything. >> finally, richard, if that is the case, what do the folks that you're talking to see as the end game. how does this play out? does it fundamentally depend on the loyalty of the army and what it does, international pressure? how is this going to be brought to a resolution? >> i think gadhafi's lost loyalty for a lot of sections of the army, in this area particularly. for the protesters, they think it is very personal. this is an old fashioned style revolt. they want to kill the leader, they want the off with his head model of a revolution, and that's what they think will change this dynamic. it is not that organized of a society. it wasn't that the military had such a sway in politics, like it did in egypt, where the military was an organized bureaucracy, a ghost in the machine. this was more tribal: the military is an institution, one of many. but the tribes in many ways are more important than the
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institutions in this country. they think this ends by taking tripoli, this fighting in tripoli now, and by having gadhafi hanging upside down from a lamppost. that's how the rebels see it. >> nbc news chief foreign correspondent, richard engel. thanks for your time tonight. really appreciate it. coming up"the ed show" ." he talks to people about the public sector unions. and how hard is it to get a straight answer out of donald rumsfeld, mr. known, unknown? today, andrea mitchell found out.
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kansas where they are investigating extremists trying to eliminate women's reproductive rights. we go back live to kansas for an exclusive report coming up. u
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you may have heard that former secretary of defense donald rumsfeld has a book out. today, he appeared here on msnbc where he was as slippery as a wet bar of soap. andrea mitchell made the valiant, effective effort to hold on. >> didn't you make up your mind to go after iraq before there was any evidence? >> no, absolutely not. >> without any evidence to connect them to al qaeda? >> no, there was not. >> or to 9-11.
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>> it was not. he was one of two or three countries of all the countries in the world that made negative remarks about 9-11. no. >> that's not enough reason to go to war. >> of course not, i didn't suggest it was. >> you actually created for the first time a special unit, this office of special plans. it has been described as an intelligence. >> the policy office created it. >> on your orders? >> not on my orders at all. >> according to subsequent reports, that intelligence unit, that analysis unit in the pentagon was stove piping information, intelligence information. >> what does that mean, stove piping? >> mr. secretary, you know what stove piping means. >> i don't. >> having receded from public view since leaving the government in 2006, rumsfeld has never been held to account for his performance as defense secretary, where his record included two wars through which nearly 6,000 americans have died, along with untold iraqis
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and afghan east. last night, he criticized president obama's budget proposal but didn't talk about pairing costly foreign massive upper income tax cuts. it appears that most people are going to be content to treat mr. rumsfeld as just another personality with a book to sell rather than someone who should be rigorously held to account for his awful record. to andrea's great credit she did her best to do that just today. i really hope others follow her lead so that rumsfeld book junket doesn't end up as little more than a victory lap.
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one of the reasons "the rachel maddow show" is in kansas this week covering the extreme anti-abortion movement is this man. the former republican attorney general of kansas, phil kline. he is in day two of an ethics violation hearing convened by a state disciplinary panel that handles complaints against
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lawyers. among other things, kline is accused of cross referencing hotel records with redacted medical records, subpoenaed from the late dr. tiller's office in order to learn the names of dr. tiller's patients. today kline defended himself by saying he used those records to identify child victims of sexual abuse who he claims might have been getting abortions at dr. tiller's clinic. he also testified he was trying to find the, quote, traveling companions of children who may be seeking abortions. kline could be disbarred if the kansas supreme court decides to impose sanctions. rachel maddow show producer rebecca drieden has been in kansas since the hearing began and joins us tonight from wichita. why are you in wichita? >> reporter: chris, we came down here to talk to a guy named lee thompson who was dr. tiller's attorney for more than 15 years and he told us they knew of course that they were being investigated by phil kline but
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really didn't know the depth of this investigation. some of the allegations set forth against mr. kline in this complaint, for example, that his office had investigators staking out dr. tiller's clinic following his employees, things like that, dr. tiller's -- dr. tiller's lawyer tells us today, those were the tactics that were being used they knew by, you know, the protesters and some of the, you know, extreme anti-abortion movement. those were not the sort of things that he knew that the attorney general's office might have been using, so he was sort of surprised to learn of some of these allegations. now, we also came down here, though, to talk to lee thompson because he is not just dr. tiller's long-time attorney. he is also the attorney for dr. means and she is the physician who is trying to become the first abortion provider here in wichita since dr. tiller was murdered more than a year and a half ago. so really we came here to ask him what he thinks it is that there is no abortion provider in wichita and if he thinks there will be any time soon.
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>> i think the tactics used against dr. tiller are clearly being employed here as they have been employed across the country. as you say, there is the example of following employees home but also the intimidation of economics, you know, going after people who might wish to lease office space to an abortion provider to discourage them and say we will inundate you with not only mailings. we will call your homes. we will call your families. it's just a plan virtually of terrorism. and the federal government wouldn't stand for that when it was intimidating people not to vote. and i think we should see what is decent federal cooperation now accelerated into much more aggressive federal action to protect the rights of women. >> do you think the federal government may assist in wichita and do something to make sure
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that abortion can be provided here? do you think they need to have a stronger role than they have right now? >> historically the federal government has been helpful. wichita is a wonderful location, very supportive quite frankly in my opinion of abortion services. it's gotten a bad name because the minority of people who have come around and done these sort of terrorist acts. i think the federal government could be of assistance now. it's dependent upon, you know, exactly what's happening. but i think increased federal prosecutorial resources, looking at complaints, looking at face act violations, the prevention of access to an abortion clinic is a federal offense, those sorts of things always need to be constantly monitored and i would hope that they would continue to be so and probably accelerated. >> describe sort of the climate here in wichita for me. is it that this is a city that is that opposed to abortion, or
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is it that this is a city that's that afraid of abortion or of the anti-abortion movement that it can't have abortion services? >> i don't think the climate in wichita has virtually anything to do with the provision of abortion services. it was our experience and trials of dr. tiller that studies we did indicated that it was the abortion protesters who had the highest negatives, not dr. tiller. this is a city, this is a state that produced dwight eisenhower, nancy kassenbaum, a wide range of moderate politicians. what has happened is simply that the risks for the physician have become so great, created by a climate of fear and intimidation, that that is what prevents provision of abortion services. it isn't the climate of wichita. it isn't the climate in texas or minnesota or any place else in my opinion. someplaces it's better and worse. but it is the acts of those who
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are breaking the law to prevent women from having access to abortion services that has really made physicians wary of doing that. they can't get leases on buildings. their dry cleaners are picketed, you know, their families are harassed. all of those sorts of things. that is the sort of climate and i think that has occurred wherever people seek to perform abortions. >> are you confident that abortion services will be able to be available in wichita and south central kansas sometime soon? >> am i confident? i can't say that i am. we are the official custodians of dr. tiller's records and so when people look for dr. tiller on the web they get this law firm's address and they call here asking, thinking we might be an abortion clinic and they say, where can i go? and we have to say, maybe kansas city.

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